Wednesday, 8 July 2009


June 30th

Today the water situation has got even worse. There’s no water at the standpipe at the bottom of the stairs. But we don’t find this out until we’ve used most of our water stored in buckets and jerry cans for flushing the loo, showering, and doing last night’s washing up. The SORAS houseboy gets us a jerry can full from somewhere, and all of a sudden we’re on real emergency situation. No more washing; we’ll just have to stink. Water for drinking is the only priority.
Tom thinks that the workmen digging up the main road to lay fibre optic cables have gone through our water main, and this seems to be borne out by a fountain of water coming from one of the trenches and a mob of workmen standing staring morosely at it, with expressions as if to say “who decided to put water pipes under the pavement?”
I go up to the office to meet Étienne, the head of Cyicaro, who is supposed to be giving me his census returns en route for Kigali. (Everything’s supposed to be closed today because of Gacaca). I get there at 7.15 and wait until 8.00, and Étienne doesn’t show. The office is open, and plenty of people are coming and going. The formal Gacaca starts at 8.00, and at that time everyone is supposed to leave their desks and take themselves off to the big stadium for the court case.
I walk back home; I get as far as the bus park when my phone rings. It’s Étienne ringing to say he’s running late and it’ll be a while yet before he makes it to the office. I say I’m not going back there, and he’s to stick the papers under my office door.
Back at the flat there’s not a lot to do. If people would only be businesslike and meet deadlines I’d have tons of things I could be doing. But this is Rwanda, and priorities are different. I read a lot, and make a stab at a summary of the schools I’ve visited this term and what I’ve learned from them about the state of things in Muhanga. The section on problems and difficulties is longer than the one on things which are going well.
In the afternoon I start preparing food. Tonight is film night at Becky’s. I’ve no sooner reminded people when Moira texts to say we can’t have the digital projector because its needed at the College today. For the rest of the afternoon the film night is off, then on again, and I use a lot of phone credit trying to work out who’s coming. I make a bean salad, and some coleslaw to take.
I text Jeanne, the head teacher from Nyabisindu, to see if she wants to come and meet the muzungus. She doesn’t reply, but then in Rwanda that might mean nothing more than she’s trying to save money, or has run out of phone credit!
Raima rings me with yet another “problem” at Ahazaza school, this time involving wrong information put on their school census form and someone doing a lot of suspect photocopying while she was in Europe. We chat for a while and I promise to go and look in the Office tomorrow and see when her census papers were returned, and who by, and whether this person had put the official school stamp on them.
Eventually it is film night. Charlotte is back from Nairobi, but very tired and not up to coming. Likewise Christi is pooped after a very taxing few days. Jeanne doesn’t show either, nor Soraya. So we are me, Tom, Beth, Becky and Nathan. A small, select group. At least we have loads of food, and good stuff to, and we eat like kings. We watch “Goonies”, a typical Spielberg film with just about every cliché you can imagine from Errol Flynn to Indiana Jones. But good to just veg out and watch of an evening. I discover that, like me, Beth is a hockey player.
The only down side to the evening is returning to a waterless house, and the thought of having a pile of smelly washing up to do in the morning. Why can’t this country get its water supplies sorted out? We pay enough for our water bills….

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